chicago winter forecast

Cold Weather Haters, Look Away: Old Farmer's Almanac Calls for Rough Chicago Winter

The publication claims to be accurate "around 80%" of the time, but several studies have disputed that finding

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The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been predicting the weather for centuries, and we’re learning more about what the publication believes is in store for the Chicago area this winter.

According to this year’s forecast, which will be released later this month, parts of the upper Midwest, including the Chicago area and northwest Indiana, will potentially see “unreasonably cold and snowy” conditions this winter.

Parts of western Illinois are grouped in with the Great Plains states, with the publication calling for a “hibernation” winter that will be full of cold temperatures and plenty of snow.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that it uses long-term temperature patterns to predict the severity of the upcoming season, as well as the track record of precipitation and snowfall in the impacted areas over the course of the last 30 years.

Many meteorologists dispute the accuracy and the methodology employed by the publication.  The publication claims that it is “about 80% correct,” but many media studies have contested that figure. One such study, conducted by the University of Illinois and cited by Popular Mechanics, holds that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is only correct 52% of the time, which essentially represents the odds of a coin flip landing on either heads or tails.

While climate projections have not yet been released by the National Weather Service, what’s known is that the Chicago area experienced a mostly normal winter in 2021-22, at least in terms of temperature. According to a climate report released by the NWS’s Romeoville office, temperatures were around normal for the three months of winter, with a mild December getting balanced out by below-average temperatures in January and February.

In Chicago, the average temperature during winter was 28.7 degrees, just a half-degree warmer than normal, according to NWS records.

Where there was significant disparity was in snowfall totals, with parts of northern Illinois, including Rockford, receiving far less snow than normal. In fact, Rockford received a total of 15.7 inches of snow for the season, more than 13 inches below its normal average.

In Chicago, 28.6 inches of snow fell during the winter, right around the city’s traditional average. A handful of large snow events, including one that dumped a foot or more of snow in some southern suburbs during the month of February, helped to keep things around average in other parts of the region as well.

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